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standard for measuring cloth : but, in the ancient statutes, which for centuries after the conquest were enacted in the degenerate Latin of the age, the term ulna, or ell, is always used to designate the yard. Historical traditions allege that, a full century before the Conquest, a law of Edgar prescribed that there should be the same weights, and the same measures, throughout the realm ; but that it was never observed. The system which had been introduced by the Romans, however uniform in its origin, must have undergone various changes in the different governments of the Saxon Heptarchy. When those kingdoms were united in one, it was natural that laws of uniformity should be prescribed by the prince; and as natural that usages of di. versity should be persisted in by the people. Canute the Dane, William the Conqueror, and Richard the First, princes among those of most extensive and commanding authority, are said to have made laws of the like import, and the same inefficacy. The Norman Conquest made no changes in any of the established weights and measures. The very words of a law of William the Conqueror are cited by modern writers on the English weights and measures; their import is: “We ordain and command that the weights and measures, “ throughout the realm, be as our worthy predecessors have estab“ Jished.” (Wilkins, Legg, Saxon, Folkes, cited by Clark, p. 150.]
One of the principal objects of the Great Charter was the establishment of uniformity of weights and measures; but it was a uniformity of existing weights and measures; and a uniformity not of identity, but of proportion. The words of the 25th chapter of the Great Charter of the year 1225 (9 Henry III.) are, in the English translation of the statutes, “ one measure of wine shall be through our realm, “ and one measure of ale, and one measure of corn, that is to say, " the quarter of London : and one breadth of dyed cloth, that • is to say, two yards (ulne] within the lists : and it shall be of or weights as it is of measures.” The London quarter, therefore, and the yard, or ulna, were existing, known, established measures; and the one measure of corn was the London quarter. The one measure of ale was a gallon, of the same contents for liquid measure as the ball peck was for dry. But the one measure of wine was a gallon, not of the same cubical contents as the half-peck and ale gallon, but which, when filled with wine, was of the same weight as the halfpeck, or corn gallon, when filled with wheat. And the expressions, To it shall be of weights as it is of measures," mean that there shall be the same proportion between the money weight, and the merchant's weight, as between the wine measure and the corn measure.
The Great Charter, which now appears as the first legislative act in the English statutes at large, is not the Magna Charta extorted by the barons from John, at Runnimead, but a repetition of it by Henry the Third in the year 1225, as confirmed by his son, Edward the First, in the year 1300. It is properly an act of this last date, though inserted in the book as of 9 Henry III., or 1225.
In several of the subsequent confirmations of this charter, which, for successive ages, attest at once bow apt it was to be forgotten by power,
and how present it always was to the memory of the people, the real meaning of this 25th chapter appears to have been misunderstood. It has been supposed to have prescribed the uniformity of identity, and not the uniformity of proportion ; that, by enjoining one measure of wine, and one measure of ale, and one measure of corn, its intention was, that all these measures should be the same; that there should be only one unit measure of capacity for liquid and dry substances, and one unit of weights.
But this neither was, por could be, the meaning of the statute. Had it been the intention of the legislator, he would have said, there shall be one and the same measure for wine, corn, and ale; and the reference to the London quarter could not have been made, for nei. ther wine nor ale were ever ineasured by the quarter; and, instead of saying “it shall be of weights as it is of measures," it would have said, there shall be but one set of weights for whatever is to be weighed.
The object of the whole statute was, not to innovate, but to fix existing rights and usages, and to guard against fraud and oppression. It says that the measure of corn shall be the London quarter; that cloth shall be two yards within the lists. But it neither defines the contents of the quarter, nor the length of the yard: it refers to both as fixed and settled quantities. To have prescribed that there should be but one unit of weights and one measure of wine, ale, and corn, would have been a great and violent innovation upon all the existing habits and usages of the people. The chapter is not intended for a general regulation of weights and measures. It refers specifically and exclusively to the measure of three articles, wine, ale, corn; and to the width of cloths. Its intention was to provide that the measure of corn, of ale, and of wine, should not be the same; that is, that the wine measure should not be used for ale and corn, nor the ale measure for wine.
That such was and must have been the meaning of the statute, is fur. ther proved by the statute of 1266, (51 Henry II1.) and by the treatise upon weights and measures, published in the statute books as of the 31 Edward I., or 1304; the first, an act of the same Henry the Third whose Great Charter is that inserted among the laws, and the second an act of the same Edward the First whose confirmation of the Great Charter is the existing statute.
The act of 51 Henry III., (1266) is called the assize of bread and of ale. It purports to be an exemplification, given at the request of the bakers of the town of Coventry, of certain ordinances, of the assize of bread, and ale, and of the making of money and measures, made in the times of the king's progenitors, sometime kings of England. It presents an established scale, then of ancient standing, between the prices of wheat and of bread, providing that when the quarter of wheat is sold at twelve pence, the farthing loaf of the best white bread shall weigh six pounds sixteen shillings. It then graduates the weight of bread according to the price of wheat, and for every six pence added to the quarter of wheat, reducos, though not in exact proportions, the weight of the farthing loaf, till, when the wheat is at twenty shillings a quarter, it directs the weight of the loaf to be six shillings and three pence. It regulates, in like manner, the price of the gallon of ale, by the price of wheat, barley, and oats; and, finally, declares, that, “ by the consent of the whole realm of Eng. “ land, the measure of the king was made; that is to say: that an “ English penny, called a sterling round, and without any clipping, “ shall weigh thirty-two wheat corns in the midst of the ear, and “ twenty-pence do make an ounce, and twelve ounces one pound, and “ eight pound do make a gallon of wine, and eight gallons of wine “ do make a London bushel, which is the eighth part of a quarter.”
Henry the Third was the eighth king of the Norman race: and this statute was passed exactly two hundred years after the Conquest. It is merely an exemplification, word for word, embracing several ordinances of his progenitors, kings of England; and it unfolds a system of uniformity for weights, coins, and measures of capacity, very ingeniously imagined, and skilfully combined.
It shows, first, that the money weight was identical with the silver coins: and it establishes an uniformity of proportion between the money weight and the merchant's weight, exactly corresponding to that between the measure of wine and the measure of grain.
It makes wheat and silver money, the two wcights of the balance, the natural tests and standards of each other; that is, it makes wheat the standard for the weight of silver money, and silver money the standard for the weight of wheat.
It combines an uniformity of proportion between the weight and the measure of wheat and of wine; so that the measure of wheat should at the same time be a certain weight of wheat and the measure of wine at the same time a certain weight of wine, so that the article whether bought and sold by weight or by measure, the result was the same. To this, with regard to wheat, it gave the further advantage of an abridged process for buying or selling it by the number of its kernels. Under this system, wheat was bought and sold by a combination of every property of its nature, with reference to quantity; that is, by number, weight, and measure. The statute also fixed its proportional weight and value with reference to the weight and value of the silver coin for which it was to be exchanged in trade. If, as the most eminent of the modern economists maintain, the value of every thing in trade is regulated by the proportional value of money and of wheat, then the system of weights and measures, contained in this statute, is not only accounted for as originating in the nature of things, but it may be doubted whether any other system be reconcileable to nature. It was with reference to this system, that, in the introduction to this report, it was observed, that our own weights and measures were originally founded upon an uniformity of proportion, and not upon an uniformity of identity. In the system which allows only one unit of weights and one unit of measures of capacity, all the advantages of the uniformity of preportion are lost. The litre of the French system is a weight for nothing but distilled water, at a given temperature.
But with this statute of 1266, and with the admirable system of proportional uniformity in weights and measures, of which it gives the elements, it has fared still worse than with the twenty-fifth chap. ter of Magna Charta. The most valuable and important feature of uniformity in the system, the identity of the nummulary weight and of the standard silver coin, that feature which is believed to be of more influence upon the happiness and upon the morals of nations, than any other principle of uniformity of which weights and measures are susceptible, was first defaced by Edward the First himself. It was utterly annihilated by his successors. The consequence of which has been, that the object and scope of the statute of 1266 have been misunderstood by subsequent parliaments; that laws have been enacted professedly in conformity to this statute, but entirely subver. sive of it; and that anomalies have crept into the weights and mea. sures of England, and of this Union, which it appears to be impossible to trace to any other source.
The only notice which most of the modern writers upon English weights and measures have taken of this statute has been, to censure it for taking kernels of wheat as the natural standard of weights; with the very obvious remark that the wheat of different seasons and of different fields, and often even of the same field and the same sea. son, is different. But the statute is chargeable with no such uncertainty. The statute merely describes how the standard measure of the exchequer, by the consent of the whole realm of England, was made. The article, for which of all others the measure was most wanted, was wheat; and a measure was wanted which should give it, as far as was practicable, in number, weight, and measure. It took, therefore, thirty-two kernels of average wheat from the middle of the ear, and found them equal in weight to the silver penny sterJing, new from the mint, round and without clipping. It then drops the numeration of wheat; but proceeds to declare that twenty such pence make an ounce, twelve ounces one pound, and eight pounds a gallon of wine, and eight gallons of wine a London bushel, which is the eighth part of a quarter. It must be observed here, that it was not the measure but the weight of wine, which was used to form the standard bushel. It was not eight wine gallons, but eight gallons of wine. The bushel, therefore, filled with wheat, was a measure which, in the scales, would exactly balance a keg containing eight gallons of wine, deducting the tare of both the vessels. Now, the eighth part of this bushel, or the ale gallon, would be a vessel, not of the same cubic contents as the wine gallon, but of the same proportion to it as the weight of wheat bears to the weight of wine; the proportion be. tween the commercial and nummulary weights of the Greeks; the proportion between our avoirdupois and troy pounds.
But neither the present avoirdupois, nor troy weights, were then the standard weights of England. The key-stone to the whole fabric of the system of 1266 was the weight of the silver penny sterling. This penny was the two hundred and fortieth part of the tower pound; the sterling or easterling pound which had been used at the mint for centuries before the conquest, and which continued to be used for the coinage of money till the eighteenth year of Henry the Eighth, 1527, when the troy pound was substituted in its stead. The tower or easterling pound weighed three quarters of an ounce troy less than the troy pound, and was consequently in the proportion to it of 15 to 16. Its penny, or two hundred and fortieth part, weighed, therefore, 221 grains troy; and that was the weight of the thirty-two kernels of wheat from the middle of the ear, which, according to the statute of 1266, had been taken to form the standard measure of wheat for the whole realm of England. It is also to be remembered, that the eight twelve ounce pounds of wheat, which made the gallon of wine, produced a measure which contained nearly ten of the same pounds of wine. The commercial pound, by which wine and most other articles were weighed, was then of fifteen ounces. This is apparent from the treatise of weights and measures of 1304, which repeats the composition of measures declared in the statute of 1266, with a variation of expressions, entirely decisive of its meaning. It says that, “by the “ ordnance of the whole realm of England, the measure of the king “ was made, that is to say: that the penny called sterling, round, and * without clipping, shall weigh thirty-two grains of wheat in the .“ middle of the ear. And the ounce shall weigh twenty pence; and “ twelve ounces make the London pound; and eight pounds of wheat • make a gallon; and eight gallons make the London bushel.” It then proceeds to enumerate a multitude of other articles, sold by weight or by numbers, such as lead, wool, cheese, spices, hides, and various kinds of fish; and, after mentioning nominal hundreds, consisting of 108 and 120, finally adds, “it is to be known that every • pound of money and of medicines consists only of twenty shillings “ weight; but the pound of all other things consists of twenty-five • shillings. The ounce of medicines consists of twenty pence, and " the pound contains twelve ounces; but, in other things, the pound “ contains fifteen ounces, and, in both cases, the ounce is of the weight
of twenty pence.” •
Wine and wheat therefore were both among the articles of which the pound consisted of fifteen ounces. By the statute of 1266, the gallon of wine contained eight such pounds of wine. By the statute of 1304, the gallon (for ale) contained eight such pounds of wheat; and the weight of wine contained in eight such wine gallons, and the weight of wheat contained in eight such corn or ale gallons, · was equally the measure of the bushel.
The wine, to which the statute of 1266, and many subsequent English statutes exclusively refer, was the wine of Gascoign, a province at that, and for a long period, under the dominion of the English kings, the same sort of wine which now goes under the denomination of Claret, or Bordeaux. Its specific gravity is to that of distilled water as 9,935 to 10,000, and its weight is of 250 grains troy weight. to the cubic inchi,
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